The Kentucky Derby Festival started with the miniMarathon over 30 years ago as an additional event to the Kentucky Derby Festival, a festival of events in the weeks leading up to the infamous Kentucky Derby. This race also hosts a full Marathon as of ten years ago that is now a BQ race, caution though, the full marathon is not a walk in the park.
This was my first Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon and by far the largest event in terms of name and number of participants. The amount of parking within a mile of the starting line is amazing and allowed for a quick park and plenty of time to walk to the starting line. Near the corrals there were more than ample restroom facilities near each corral entrance. Corrals went from A – I and were clearly marked. For those more elite athletes in corrals A, B, and C, security was checking corral assignments to ensure the area was saved for those properly assigned.
Even with all of the racers present, my time from the rear of corral D to the start line was less than 8 minutes and the course cleared out rather easy. The course starts on Main Street in front of the old Belknap Hardware Building that Humana Insurance now occupies and continues down Main Street into West Louisville. Along the first leg, you pass the KFC Yum! Center, Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville Slugger Museum, and countless historical buildings of Louisville. Throughout the run, different parts of Louisville are seen, including Central Park, the University of Louisville, and entering the legendary host of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs. Once you enter the gates of Churchill Downs, the sheer aura of the historical race track helps generate a second wind. Runners see thoroughbreds in action on the track as they run through tunnels under the track. A lap around the infamous infield (where the party is at on Derby day) and then out onto Central Ave for a split, Marathoneers to the right, halfers to the left. The half marathoners return towards downtown Louisville via 3rd Street and then turn right onto Main Street. The finish line is located next to Louisville Slugger Field, home to the Cincinnati Reds Triple A affiliate the Louisville Bats.
The swag for this event is rather nice. The tech shirts are quality shirt and vary year to year on color and design. The medals are very nice, unique to the race (Marathon runners get a similar, but different medal). Overall, this was a great event and a solid course with years of experience managing the race. The marathon is a BQ event and will test your abilities midway through the run.
Along the half route there were eight (8) water stops, six (6) Powerade stops, and three (3) Norton’s Healthcare first aid stops. The Runners Unite area included portapots, food, drinks, and a Asics Runner Gear area to buy Asics gear with the KDF logo. Oh and they offer medal engraving!
Read my review here.